Monday, September 13, 2010

Mermaid Dreams- finished painting + painting process photos

I finished her...i finally finished my mermaid, whom i have been fighting with for months now!
Mermaid Dreams
Mermaid Dreams
20" x 24"
Original acrylic painting by Chelsea Rose
$330( see sale listing here )

....I am kinda surprised at how long i took to paint this one! I began painting her on canvas in July but the initial pen and ink drawing that inspired the painting came way way before then:
love thy self
"Love thy Self"
original pen and ink drawing by Chelsea Rose
Prints are available for $7 here.

......she was a quick drawing that i made last year sometime. Initially i loved her pose and the feelings she conveyed but disliked the drawing. Eventually i decided to make prints available and quickly noted she became one of my best selling drawings.

I also ended up making a pen and ink over acrylic version which was done on masonite for a commision. I created an extra one in yellow... which i still have:

...she is up for sale as well, going for $40. Check out the listing here.

After some time i felt the need to do a big acrylic painting of a mermaid and decided to model it after my pen and ink drawing above.
So i used the original drawing and projected the image onto canvas where i traced the basic outlines to create the framework of the painting.

A snapshot of the paintings humble beginnings:

work in progress
...this shows the very first layering's of color i began with. I was still in the "feeling things out" stage at this point. If you compare it to the finished product a bunch of these changed!
work in progress- mermaid you can see here the very first thing i did was restructure the face and remake the headdress/hair. I got rid of the lil bindy and added a third eye instead. The lil "nubs" i had sprouting from the head wasn't cutting it so i added, tentacles, fin like dread tendrils instead- which was a lot of fun to paint because of all the lil loops and spirals i got to play with.
work in progress- mermaid
....I took the painting out to a few of the local art fairs so that i could work on her while i was tending the booth. It was this day that i did a lot of work on the tail. As seen here i added a lot more side fin to the lower tail. I was also beginning to contemplate the stark emptiness of the background and was throwing around the idea of adding fish, another mermaid....anything!
I was happy to get a lot of questions and general interest when out and about with the painting but what was most bazaar is almost everyone asked me if i was painting MYSELF as the mermaid. I really had not intended this to be some kind of self portrait but a lot of people insisted on it. This made me smile and remember something someone very close to me said as a lil girl. My mom worked for an old Hebrew mystic who was also an amazing painter( he was very old school and used egg tempera paint that he made himself) and he used to always say to me " A true artist only ever paints themselves," wether they mean it or not- this always made me giggle.
bubbles-work in progress
( sorry for this photos horrid quality)
....Here you can see i added big poofy hip side fins and finally began to remedy the "emptiness" of the background with bubbles.
The bubbles started out here and there...and i really liked the depth they began to suggest so i decided to keep them and expand upon them bit by bit.
Mermaid-work in progress
....the bubbles kept on multiplying. I started adding smaller lil jets of silvery bubbles and made the bottom of the canvas a darker blue to help hint at deep dark sea.
I took the above photo on my birthday- Aug.15 and so the painting sat untouched for quite some time. I was pretty unhappy with it at this point. I felt all the bubbles crowded the image...and i detested the fact that it was now time to work on the hands( my least fave part of any drawing/painting i do.) The painting was pretty much in this same state when i finally promised myself i would finish it up this past weekend- no matter what!
I did all the finishing work in about 6 hours which included darkening the bottom sea again, adding more bubbles, removing some bubbles, adding more shimming light from above, going back into all the of color for one last "ping" of color, going over all the black outlines and adding more spiraling and detail, added a few more spiral tendrils of hair, more color and volume to the closed eyelids, blue to skin and lips( to make her look more like she is in water), and finally the hands( which i spent about a half an hour muttering and cursing under my breath as i worked at them in a frenzy to some extremely horrible and chaotic sitar music...and was very close to having a nervous breakdown. Luckily Danny saved me by turning the music off which kind of broke the spell and i was able to get the hands to somewhat behave finally.)

So yes...she is done! Did i mention i love mermaids very muchly so and they have always been a folk symbol that i deeply identified with? I was drawing bare breasted mermaids when i was 5 and never did stop. I grew up at the beach, lolling in the whiteraff with my legs firmly held together as i pretended to be a lovely flesh eating mermaid hunting the local tourists and surfers.
They will always fascinate me and when ever i am in the water- be it a pool, ocean or river you ll see me swimming fast and furious, legs held firmly together like a mermaid.

Much love and many blessings,
-Chelsea Rose

Lots of body painting coming up. This Thursday i will be doing a paid commission body painting with a local photographer. On Saturday i will be doing a body painting of mine for my body painting series. So stay tuned.


  1. it looks fantastic chels! the bubbles and the extra fins make her look almost 3-D. just beautiful. and she does look like you, ms. mermaid. <3

  2. Wow seeing the whole process in one collaborative has been most enjoyable to read about. I mentioned before how your layering journey has truly inspired me as an artist to slow down and enjoy the process. I posted some of my progress over on my blog. I would love your feed back when have a spare moment. Your expertise and keen eye would be most graciously welcomed. Keep up the awesome work.

  3. Hey Chelsea she is fab well worth the time you have put in,

    Aaron :-)

  4. I like seeing the process too and some times the process can be frustrating but can make us grow as artists. She looks wonderful!

  5. She shows SO much more depth than she originally did. I'm glad you pushed the piece as much as you did because it is such a strong piece for you. Congratulations on the upcoming photo shoots!

  6. You're not a pisces, or cancer, by any chance, are you? *laughing*